Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Besalú - Orriols

GR1 Sendero Histórico day 48.
Distance: 37.5km (1404.4km), time spent: 9:51.
Waymarking: Bad most of the way.
Weather: Pretty, with lightly veiled clouds.


It is a little bit strange to wake up and know that I have just one night of sleep left until I am finished. To the coast, it is still some 60 kilometres left, but I am anyway determined to make an effort on hurting feet to make it in two days. The reason why I have pushed myself a little more towards the end of my hike is that my father has decided to fly down and meet in Sant Martí d'Empúries when I finish, something I look forward to. Where I will go to today, is a kind of a question mark though. Banyoles is too short a distance, Camallera just about too long, no place available in between. Moreover, I still struggle to pitch my tent too near people. My plans for camping as much as possible on the trail has become a somewhat embarrassing affair.

Besalú, walking on the bridge in the morning on the second to last day.

The good thing about starting early is that I get Besalú all to myself, both the streets and bridge. When the tourists sleeps there is a solitary walker carrying a backpack walking through the narrow streets, while the light in the sky gets brighter and brighter. It is a majestic start on the day, walking across the bridge, with the buildings of the Middle Ages at my back. For then to go wrong, when the waymarks seems just as old and has not stood the test of time. The poor waymarking shall pursue me on this day also.

A farm passing by between Besalú and Serinyà.

Comfortable enough can it be said about the first minutes out of Besalú, if you do not take the wrong turn as I did and followed the GR2 instead. And more confused I get at least, when I at a junction sees the red and white blazed next to both the two other options you can choose from at the junction. Not unexpectedly does I make the wrong decision, again, and faithfully follows the marks until I arrive at a farm with some angry dogs, fortunately leashed, where the marks stop dead. After turning back, the tracks of the trail are erased down by a road, which I decides to follow until I get to an even more trafficked road. In my mind’s eye, I saw myself having to follow that road around almost all the way to Serinyà, but given how much traffic there is on the road, it is a very bad idea. Again, now what?

A small aqueduct of some kind that the route passes underneath on the way out of Serinyà.

Now I walk back again and makes a certified guess where the trail goes. Luckily, I hits the mark. Nothing much is there to be said about the route to Serinyà, it is more tension connected with finding the way than what you see next to what you are trying to find the way to. It is a tension I could have been without. Serinyà has some buildings with a noteworthy architecture, otherwise little. Outside, however, I pass by an area that are housing some prehistoric caves.

Ruins just outside of Banyoles, it is written Patro de Banyoles under the statue.

The continuing trail to Banyoles is if possible even more characterless. Flat fields, alongside trafficked or dusty roads. But from some ruins before the slope leading to the town, there is a nice view over Estany de Banyoles. I do not feel like staying for long in the tourist town, but still manages to throw away a lot of time trying to find an accommodation for the night. I get some help at the local tourist office, but ends up fixing it myself. There is a market in the town, so it is crowded in the centre. I eat lunch before I go, at a café next to the same square with the marked. It is the birthday for a woman working at the café, so I get some additional snacks.

Estany de Banyoles in the colours of the fall, the lake was used for the rowing competitions during the Barcelona Olympics.

The route out of Banyoles takes a meandering course through the town, past a short visit to the church of Santa Maria Turers (14th century) and the monastery of St Stephen. Which is closed, but I feel that I have had my shares of monasteries now, so I does not get very disappointed. The suburbs passes by, and then I am outside, which feels good. Banyoles got too busy to my taste. Finding the way out proved to be strangely less problematic, quite unexpected actually. Hopefully the twenty kilometres ahead of me to Orriols will be more quiet and calm. You do not have to go down to Banyoles really if you do not want to, at Melianta the trail does not passes very far away from where the GR1 goes down to Banyoles. Melianta offers a reminder of Banyoles, being almost like a sleepy suburb to the town, but now the woods are waiting for me.

Windows with glass paintings in the Santa Maria Turers church in Banyoles.

The stage to Orriols is not a great stage of the GR1, but better than the previous one from Besalú. After the scenery earlier on the trail, this is something of a letdown. Worst it is that my feet now hurts all the time. Sharp stabs to the sides. Combined with quite boring walk it makes this day a less memorably experience. The waymarking are at times also not to be trusted too much. A trio of disappointments in other words. What is causing the pain in my feet; I have not got to the bottom of. I have walked a long way and sometimes longer than wanted, but that should not be enough to get these pains. My main assumption it that I have not maintained my hiking boots well enough and those they have stiffened a little bit too much down here. Too much pressure to the sides of my feet.

An unusual view on this stage, between Banyoles and Orriols.

This walk unfortunately goes more on paved road than I had been promised. In between, pungent smells from the nearby cowsheds reaches my nostrils. I could probably have avoided much of the pains and boredom by not making this day longer than 30 kilometres. The day has still not been without any bright spots. Parts of the trail through the woods after Centenys was soothing for the senses. With composed sceneries of comforting woods and hills in between. Towards the end, there is a wonderful light on the sky. The trail crosses a highly trafficked highway, with trailers roaring past. A bad crossing, running over, for one with hurting legs. Orriols is not the biggest of places, still there are narrow gates you have to come through to get into the village. There is a nice church here, San Ginés, and an old castle, now converted to a fashionable hotel, L’Odissea de l’Empordà. Closed for the moment. I am however not to spend the night here. I sit down outside the church and relax, let my aching feet get some deserved rest.

Mushrooms on the trail.

About 7km further on the trail is Camallera, where I have got myself a room at the Pension L’Avi Pep. I have not mind walking there, now. They told me that I could just call and they would arrange a taxi for me. After a short while, it rolls into Orriols, barely through the narrow gates. At Pension L’Avi Pep, I am meet by a friendly and hospitable hostess, I feel welcome. In the afternoon and evening I does not do much other than relaxing in the related bar and restaurant. Football on the tv (Real Madrid), burger, beer. Just to relax feels good. There is a somewhat odd mood in my mind now. Tomorrow, I will be finished, it has been a long hike and now there is just one day left. I was unsure if I would make it all the way.

The route, going on a gravel track, meanders on its way across the lowlands, on the path to Orriols.

It is a little bit sad that the second to last day on the walk became the worst one. This was a very boring walk, with my feet screaming all the time and where parts of the route are so badly marked that I constantly walked and wondered if I was on the correct way. Anyway, I am happy, the Mediterranean awaits.

In Orriols, the church of San Ginés.

<- BesalúSant Martí d'Empúries ->

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